Monday , Mar , 14 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Volume XII

Hi, all. How about them Nuggets? My boys found themselves under the rule of former Seattle coach George Karl and have started to scramble up the rankings. They’re currently on an eight-game win streak, having just dealt with Pop’s people down in San Antonio, scoring the game’s final ten points to leave town with the win. Before we get into it, I have to make an apology here. The second I heard that Karl was going to take the job, I immediately began to insult the man, claiming that he and the Nuggets would be a terrible fit. Not only did he do an absolutely awful job with the so-called “Dream Team” (he coached them to a sixth-place performance in the World Basketball Championships, in case your mind has a habit of blocking out bad memories), but he also has a history of problems with certain players, especially younger guys. Knowing that he’d be dealing with Carmelo, a young fella who has previously had, ahem, “issues” with Bzdelik, I was justifiably nervous.

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <I>Volume XII</I>“/>That said, Denver jumped right out of the starting blocks under his guidance, immediately taking to his coaching style, perhaps happy just to be away from Buzz and Coop, both of whom contributed to the team’s slow start.  So far he and ‘Melo have exchanged nothing but nice words and Martin has spoken openly of how he prefers Karl’s offensive structure.  Camby has had a couple of monster games, Earl “The Squirrel” Boykins has been his usual stellar self and everyone from the bench to the fans to the towel boys seems to be grinning in Colorado.  A fifteen-four run will do that to a franchise which went from being a western playoff team to cellar dwellers in just one off-season, despite having picked up one of the league’s elite power forwards in the summer.  All in all, it appears that Kiki did the right thing by bumping his friend and bringing in the questionable candidate.  Still, I’m not counting my chickens before they’ve hatched.  I may have conceded that George Karl won’t destroy the team, but I’m not hailing him as the answer to all their problems either.  This is one situation we’ll just have to keep an eye on.</p>
<p>The big news around the league right now concerns the matter of the introduction of an age limit.  This has been a contentious issue for some time, and recent talks have only heightened interest in the subject.  I’ve thought about this long and hard and, to tell you the honest truth, I’ve not yet come close to any firm conclusions. </p>
<p>On the one hand you have an inordinate number of players like Kwame Brown, guys who showed enough promise in high school that general managers took that risk and picked them up before they could legally drink alcohol.  Despite being a relatively recent trend, you’d be hard pressed to find a team which hasn’t been disappointed by at least one prom-to-pro bust, a diaper dandy who turned out to be nothing more than a baby on the bench.  I watched the 2004 draft in disbelief as nine (yes, nine) high schoolers were selected ahead of the college player of the year, Jameer Nelson.  Now, while Nelson hasn’t had the greatest of starts himself, my point remains: things are getting ridiculous.  There is no question that high school draftees have a higher failure rate than their college counterparts, even if you include all those considered project players.  You think Darko is going to become the player he was advertised to be?  Me neither. </p>
<p>On the other hand you have a few that came straight from bad lunches and algebra to tear the league up in no time at all.  Amaré (then just plain Amare, <I>sans accent</I>) Stoudemire was selected with the ninth pick of the draft out of Cypress Creek, what seemed a risky decision at the time.  Eighty-two games later, however, and eight general managers were left scratching their heads, unsure as to why exactly it was that they didn’t take the athletic freak from Florida.  You can hardly blame them, though. </p>
<p>Then there’s that other guy, playing for Cleveland, I think.  Apparently he’s pretty decent as well.  Seriously, though, the man has done everything we expected and more, and he didn’t think for a moment of playing in college.  The word “LeBron” is an argument against the age limit in itself.  How could we possibly think of implementing a rule which might deny us the sight of players like James beating up on the league for a few years?  Why force such individuals to fester in college somewhere when they’re already prepared and fully deserving of an NBA salary? </p>
<p>The counter-argument is that every player who is good enough will make it to the league eventually, while those who never had it in them will be exposed for what they are in the NCAA or, if they so choose, on whichever non-NBA team will sign their paycheque.  As intimated previously, I’m split on this one.  If anything I’d consider the by-product of the improvement of the college game the deal-breaker here.  To return to LeBron for a moment, I can only imagine what he’d be doing if he were playing division one basketball right now.  Naysayers might claim that he’d adjust poorly to the college style, but it’s more likely that he’d be embarrassing players the country over.  In the current basketball climate, college almost seems to be a refuge for those who couldn’t make the jump any earlier, but the introduction of this rule would undoubtedly improve the general quality of the game. </p>
<p>As always, this is a matter on which I’d like to hear your opinions.  Despite the claims that this is essentially a done deal (Stern has openly supported the idea for some time and the players’ union has intimated that they wouldn’t object to it), fan input will still be one of the commissioner’s primary concerns.  He might be stubborn on the issue, but he’s certainly not stupid, and he knows that to get on the wrong side of his fan base is effectively to throw away millions.  Tell us how you feel either by emailing me directly (8charles@gmail.com) or by commenting in the box at the bottom of the page. </p>
<p>Anyway, I know you all have enough basketball to be watching.  The All-Star game is but a memory and the postseason is creeping up fast.  This is the time of year that the champs are separated from the chumps as the play-off picture becomes clearer.  Blink and you’ll miss something crucial, so my advice is to catch as much NBA action as you can.  Before you know it, it’ll be summer and another season will have passed us by. </p>
<p>Take it easy now, </p>
<p>Chuck. </p>